What We Know and Need to Know About Global Lawyer Regulation

24 Pages Posted: 21 May 2016 Last revised: 12 Jul 2016

Date Written: May 19, 2016


Global lawyer regulation is a messy topic. It both challenges the definition of what is under review and complicates the job of determining the scope of relevant investigation. This messiness relates to foundational issues of what ‘global’ means, who is considered a ‘lawyer,’ and even what constitutes ‘regulation.’ In addition and equally relevant, an increasingly diverse set of actors and organizations are involved in producing legal services in a global context. On one hand, simply describing the identities and the scope of services provided by these actors and organizations guides policymakers interested in considering what they know and should know about the focus of their policymaking and regulatory efforts. On the other hand, understanding how regulation shapes the conduct of participants in the global market for legal services would offer insight relevant to thinking through the appropriate balance between overly burdensome regulation that is certain to undermine competitiveness and an approach that is so superficial as to result in exposing the public to risks from activity and actors who fall outside of the regulatory boundaries.

This article is one of a series addressing the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services, and is intended to provide a foundation for policymakers interested in global lawyer regulation. Rather than suggest the best approach to regulating global lawyering and lawyers, however, the article instead takes aim at developing a wish-list of information for use by any U.S.-based policymaker interested in thinking through why a particular regulatory strategy is most likely to satisfy their objectives. The article addresses three questions. First, what does “global lawyer regulation” mean? Second, what should policymakers know before imposing or changing regulation? And third, which aspects of this need-to-know category already are known or would be knowable with modest additional effort? This foundation is intended to help policymakers consider next steps in supporting their role as regulatory advisors or direct regulators in a global context.

Keywords: regulation, globalization, legal profession

JEL Classification: F01, F10, K10, L49

Suggested Citation

Silver, Carole, What We Know and Need to Know About Global Lawyer Regulation (May 19, 2016). 67 South Carolina Law Review 461 (2016), Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-11, HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2016-2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2782029

Carole Silver (Contact Author)

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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